What is Maya?

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Sikhi does not accept the conventional meaning of Maya as “illusion”. The world is not Maya; it is a creation of God and as such, an abode of the Truthful One, or rather a Temple of Divinity. According to Sikhi Maya epitomizes the principle duality. It is this duality which makes one forget the Lord and attracts the man to wealth, beauty, power, or scholarship.

ਏਹ ਮਾਇਆ ਜਿਤੁ ਹਰਿ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਮੋਹੁ ਉਪਜੈ ਭਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ ਲਾਇਆ ||
ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਜਿਨਾ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੀ ਤਿਨੀ ਵਿਚੇ ਮਾਇਆ ਪਾਇਆ ||੨੯||
“This is Maya, by which the Lord is forgotten; emotional attachment and love of duality well up. Says Nanak, by Guru’s Grace, those who enshrine love for the Lord find Him, in the midst of Maya. ||29||”
(Ang 921)

In water one can swim or one can drown. Water is not intrinsically evil; however it has the potential of both. Similarly the world has the potential of being seen as God’s Light and Glory manifest or can been seen as ocean of fire of desires. This depends on one’s consciousness and spiritual state. The more one meditates on Naam and gets closer to God the more he or she realises that all that exists is God and everything else is an illusion.

The root of Maya is egoism, the assertion of the self. It is this which separates a man from his divine self. By such fetters, man binds himself to his family and to worldly possessions. Maya is a trap for the soul.

Maya may also take on a more subtle form as self-importance or self-complacency. It may form different patterns like intellectual pride, family attachment, pleasure-seeking and money-grabbing. It plays an important part in daily life.

The Guru by his grace gives the antidote for Maya. It is “The Name” of God, which works the spell. With it Maya is brought under control and so no longer harasses the disciple.

The residue of Maya accumulates through many births. It sticks to the individual like glue. It produces an inbuilt sense of isolation which causes man to forget his own divine essence. The individual’s soul will realize, sooner or later, that a Supreme soul lives within. This becomes a spiritual awakening which will secure liberation from passion and desire. This liberation comes through self-control and the practice of virtuous living. It is the association with the Guru and the company of holy men that facilitates this realization of man’s divine origin.

The evil effects of ‘Maya’ take longer to eradicate. Along with self-effort, the Guru grace is necessary. Guru Nanak says: “The true Guru has revealed the One to me. I have destroyed duality and can now recognize Him, through the Guru’s word”. Between man and God is a wall of ignorance, once this is removed, man may realize his kinship with Divinity.

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